The determined and tireless efforts of Indian and Pakistani activists bore fruit and the prayers of the family members of Hamid Ansari were fulfilled, when he was set free by Pakistan recently. India welcomed Hamid’s freedom by announcing the reciprocal release of Imran Warsi, a Pakistani national, who is slated to reach home soon. These two incidents have rekindled hope for other prisoners of India and Pakistan languishing in jails in each other's countries – many of them continuing to suffer from incarceration long after the completion of their sentences. This new-found hope has also presented the opportunity to expand the goodwill and extend the scope of discussion about the larger and much-complex issue of prisoners.
On 18 July 2018, in his reply to a question asked in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V. K. Singh mentioned that there are about 418 Indian fishermen and 53 civilian prisoners in various jails in Pakistan. Besides, 83 missing Indian Defence Personnel (status yet to be acknowledged by Pakistan) are also believed to be held in Pakistani jails. On the other hand, there are about 108 fishermen from Pakistan and 249 civilian prisoners languishing in Indian jails.
The panel discussion aims to address different and difficult dimensions of this issue – made more complex – by the unending acrimony among the two neighbours. Some of the unresolved issues pertain to: i) the treatment of prisoners while serving their sentences, ii) communication problems, iii) delays in gaining diplomatic access, iv) challenges for repatriation even after the end of prison sentence, v) procedural red tape, vi) effect of bilateral relations on repatriation, and vii) the role of diplomacy etc. The discussion will also deliberate on existing mechanisms such as the Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners established by two countries and the urgent need for its revival.
(Registration is Mandatory)
Jatin Desai, Senior Journalist and former General Secretary, Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD)
Nirupama Subramanian, Editor, The Indian Express, Chandigarh
Rajdeep Sardesai, Well-known Senior Journalist and Consulting Editor TV Today
Sudheendra Kulkarni, Adviser, ORF Mumbai and former aide to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
The event will be from 5 pm onwards